Tag Archives: poetry

Oh! Oh, selah!

A picture of an elderly King David playing a harpNote: This is a repost, by request, of a post originally published on June 27, 2007. (If you need to know why it disappeared in the first place, please read about the “Secret origins of the Higgaion reboot.”)

In a recent June 27, 2007 post, Rick Brannan expressed a desire to read what John Hobbins, Tyler Williams, and I might have to say about the somewhat mysterious word סלה selah, which appears some 71 times in the psalms, plus three more occurrences in Habakkuk 3. I do not pretend to any special knowledge about this word, but in keeping with Rick’s request, I will share some observations.

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My heart is in the East

Statue of Judah HaleviThe great medieval Jewish poet and apologist Judah Halevi (c. 1075–1141) wrote the following poem sometime after AD 1099.

לִבִּי בְמִזְרָח, וְאָנֹכִי בְּסוֹף מֵעֲרָב —
אֵיךְ אֶטְעֲמָה אֵת אֲשֶׁר אֹכַל וְאֵיךְ יֶעֱרַב?
אֵיכָה אֲשַׁלֵּם נְדָרַי וֶאֱסָרַי, בְּעוֹד
צִיּוֹן בְּחֶבֶל אֱדוֹם וַאְנִי בְּכֶבֶל עֲרָב?
יֵקֵל בְּעֵינֵי עֲזֹב כָּל טוּב סְפָרַד, כְּמוֹ
יֵקֵר בְּעֵינַי רְאוֹת עַפְרוֹת דְּבִיר נֶחָרָב.

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